The Battle for America 2010: Six Days from the Reckoning
Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate
Sen. Barbara Boxer, locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, got a surprise this week: The world learned that she may have failed to disclose real estate holdings on her personal finance disclosure as required by law. The Foundation for Ethics in Public Service has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting an investigation. Boxer chairs the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. For now.
This week Obama showed up in the Bay Area for three fundraising events and then gallivanted out to a Los Angeles luncheon for Barbara Boxer and to stump for area Democrats at USC.
The USC event attracted a venerable who's who in California Democratic Party politics: the band Ozomatli, actor Jamie Fox, and candidates Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown. Obama told the mostly young, cheering thousands in attendance that "yes we can" in November. California Young Americans for Freedom showed up to protest the USC Obama event.
With less than two weeks to go until the election, polling shows the Senate run to have tightened a bit. Over at Rasmussen (October 22), Barbara Boxer has 48% of likely voters and Fiornia 46%. Three percent are in the undecided column. In other words, a tie and a tossup. RCP has similar results, showing that Fiorina has slowly chipped away at Boxer's lead.
Via Politico, a recent poll from Public Policy Polling (October 21) shows that Meg Whitman's $163 million gambit may not be paying off, as she garnered 36% to Jerry Brown's 44% among likely voters. A USC/Los Angeles Times poll taken October 13-20 shows Brown commanding a 13-point lead. However, other polls show the race much closer, and it's still in the "tossup" category over at RCP. Rasmussen also has it much closer: Brown at 48% and Whitman at 42%. The Whitman campaign released a video this week portraying Jerry Brown as a union puppet, and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigned for her in California.
In case you missed Bryan Preston's post at PJM, filmmaker David Zucker of Airplane and Naked Gun fame presents us, in my opinion, with the best ad this season.
''Call me Madam'':
David Zucker became a Republican after the 9/11 attacks. From Zucker's Big Government piece:
In the debate with Carly Fiorina, the subject was brought up, but Boxer was quite adept at deflecting it — and still without an apology. Let this video be my apology. Every time I see the public record listing my campaign contribution to Boxer — I wince. I mean, we all have things we’ve done in the past that we’re embarrassed about, but I’d rather have my being restricted to 100 yards away from elementary schools be public knowledge than that $5,000 Boxer campaign contribution.
Bi-polar, Golden State -- Voters in California are now souring on marijuana legalization (Proposition 19) and the global warming law postponement bill (Proposition 23).
Liberalism, Tolerance, Juan Williams-style -- Duane Hammond helped construct the stage that Obama spoke on during his USC appearance. His union fired him for wearing a sweatshirt with "George H.W. Bush" on the front and the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush on the back. His son is serving our country aboard the U.S.S. George H.W. Bush.
You Can't Handle the Truth -- New ad from John Dennis.
Ministry of Truth to Contact CBS? -- A 60 Minutes report shows California unemployment/underemployment at 22%.
It's Obvious Who the GOP Ad-blitz Villain Is -- Clue: her name rhymes with Belosi.
What Is a Top Tax-dodging American Company to Do? -- Well, hobnob with Obama, of course. Before heading to Los Angeles, Obama fundraised and mingled at Google executive Marissa Mayer's home, raising $30,000 per head. Google's recent fiscal results show that the company "outsourced" its foreign profits through Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bermuda. Google thus paid an effective 2.4% overseas tax rate. Google employees give 75% of their political contributions to the Democratic Party. (Thanks to WarPlanner for this tip.)
BBC in CD-47 -- The British Broadcasting Corporation introduces both candidates Loretta Sanchez and Van Tran to an international audience.
Gunny vs. Filner -- "Gunny" Nick Popaditch debates Democratic Representative Bob Filner for the first and only time. The two are facing off in the race for California's 51st Congressional District.
What's Good for the Goose -- Is good for the gander? Barbara Boxer used her seniority to purchase, and then profit from, IPOs in the past. Recall that Boxer has repeatedly hammered Carly Fiorina's effete, elitist, business credentials.
Go Ahead, Punk, Obama's Not Making My Day -- Dirty Harry, no fan of Obama?
Key Race: U.S. Senate
Too much money spent on the campaign and too many negative ads. That seems to be the mindset of voters in Connecticut about how outsider Linda McMahon has comported herself as GOP candidate for U.S. Senate against insider Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who has served as state attorney general.
Take the money. As Leanne Gendreau reports on NBC Connecticut, at the beginning of the campaign, McMahon announced she’d spend up to $50 million of her own money. The latest figures from the Federal Election Commission disclose that she has already spent $40 million of that. Meanwhile, Blumenthal has spent $4.4 million, with about $500,000 of that what he loaned to the campaign from his own funds.
Rather than perceiving the kind of investment McMahon is making as a sign of confidence in herself and a commitment to her mission of changing business as usual in Washington, D.C., voters are turned off. And not only in CT. They aren’t cottoning either to Meg Whitman’s $140 million spending to become governor of California. Probably no coincidence, the more the numbers come out about Whitman’s self-funded run, the more dirt gets dished about her sons. Meanwhile, her opponent Jerry Brown has a double-digit lead. As for money-bags McMahon, the Sulfolk University poll has Blumenthal at 57 percent and her at 39 percent
And that brings us to the other excess: negative advertising. Because of her war chest, McMahon has been flooding television with commercials. Increasingly they’ve become more and more negative. Voters are pushing back. The Sulfolk poll also found that when asked who ran the more negative campaign, 62 percent of likely voters said McMahon and only 20 percent said Blumenthal.
With all that negativity in the air, some of the smears about McMahon’s policies when she was head of the WWE are beginning to stick. Earlier, they were largely ignored. For example, as Marc Ambinder recently reports in the Atlantic, Blumenthal seems to be successfully body-slamming McMahon “for the way her company has treated its wrestlers (as independent contractors rather than full time employees, depriving them of many benefits), for allegations surrounding the company’s management of wrestlers’ steroid use, and for the premature deaths of many wrestlers alleged to have used performance-enhancing substances.”
In light of those kinds of accusations about the behavior of McMahon, most folks in CT are simply shrugging off her complaints that Blumenthal is, shock shock, aligning with Planned Parenthood to dig up photos of women and the WWE that are misogynistic.
However, the smart money is still approaching this race as too close to call. It is. McMahon has adept handlers and anything could happen before Election Day.
Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate
Florida politics went national this week as Rick Scott (R) and state CFO Alex Sink (D) battled it out for the governor’s mansion in a debate hosted by CNN on Monday. The outcome: A Sink staffer gets fired for breaking the rules, by trying to coach the Democratic candidate from the sidelines.
After a long campaign season of tight polling numbers between the two candidates, Scott is widening the gap coming out of last week’s debate, with 50% support to Sink’s 44%, according to the latest Rasmussen survey.
A Zogby/Naples Daily News poll last week, however, shows Sink with a sudden lead over Scott, 43.1% to 38.5%, in a survey of 802 likely voters.
So has Sink’s self-promoted eleven newspaper endorsements to Scott’s zero held sway with voters, or will Scott’s accusation that Sink is a follower of “Obama math” and a “Tallahassee insider” resonate?
The two will continue to bombard the airwaves with negative attacks during the final push this week in the wake of star-studded rallies throughout the Sunshine State by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, as well as others.
Did Sunday’s debate on CNN bridge the gap between candidates in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican Marco Rubio, independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek? The latest poll numbers prior to that showdown showed Rubio holding a steady lead with 43% to Crist’s 32% and Meek trailing behind with 20%.
The atmosphere going into the final push remains one of “anti-establishment” and “anti-incumbent,” giving so-called outsiders a better chance than ever to take seats. No one knows the threat better than current Governor Charlie Crist, as he tries to separate himself from “establishment” by changing from Republican to independent, apparently with little success in terms of numbers thus far.
Florida’s early voting began on October 18 and unofficial results run the gamut amongst numerous news sources, some citing “surprising” results for Democrats and others touting early signs of much talked about Republican victories. No truly reliable numbers exist and the state Supervisor of Elections site doesn’t publish results in the middle of voting, so for real results, voters will just have to watch, vote, and wait. The final week is sure to be a battle to the finish.
Key Race: U.S. Senate
Bill Baar reporting:
Polls are showing a break starting towards Republican Mark Kirk over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois’s U.S. Senate race. Real Clear Politics' rolling average found Kirk up 2.8. The lead is still within the margin of error of 3 or 4 points, but all the polls are breaking towards the GOP. “Mob Banker” frames and negative ads might finely have found target.
The Chicago Tribune’s poll of 700 registered likely voters released Monday showed Kirk up 3 points over Giannoulias at 44% to 40%. The Green Party’s LeAlan Jones claimed 5% support and Libertarian Mike Labno another 4%, so the potential spoilers have been counted.
One impact of negative campaigning has been solidifying GOP support around Kirk despite Kirk’s moderate stands on social issues (consider Tamara Holder’s "Republicans beware: Mark Kirk is a liberal" an example of Democrats getting too clever for their own good pushing the Libertarian candidate as an alternative -- and spoiler-- to conservative voters). The Trib found:
Though Giannoulias and Democrats have sought to mock those positions [Kirk’s moderation], they have only engendered more support for Kirk in his own party. Republicans who said they're going to vote for Kirk jumped from 76 percent to 86 percent since the last poll.
Worse, that mockery may help Kirk with the demographic deciding the race. From the Trib’s polling:
…the two men each have the support of 43 percent of a key voting demographic: white suburban women who tend to be social moderates.
The Chicago Sun-Time’s Carol Marin is one very liberal member in the left chunk of that demographic and she’s been looking at early voting patterns in Cook County. They’ve got her scared:
…look at early voting, for instance, and the fact that for the first time since its inception, the suburbs are surpassing the city in turnout. In some cases, the ratio is 3-1.
"I'm not seeing the early voting numbers pop yet," Allen [Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen] said. "This will be a first if the trend continues."
With just one more week of early voting left, Cook County Clerk David Orr, a Democrat, doesn't mince words: "There is certainly a scare here for the Democrats."
Consider too that Chicago "has lost its No. 2 ranking in African-American population to Atlanta, which has become a magnet for blacks because of its lower cost of living and strong economy" and it looks as though a key Democratic constituency in Illinois is not waiting for the election but has already voted with their feet for jobs and prosperity out of state.
So Cook County early voters are turning out as they should, some of the Obama coalition have just left Illinois, and liberal pundits are getting gloomy. The Daily Herald’s Burt Constable’s "Stink bug enters political fray" and Rich Miller’s "Senate, gov hopefuls leave voters wanting" reflect the funk.
Yet for the first time ever, John Powers writes in the Chicago Daily Observer, "a group of volunteers has recruited over 500 new Republicans to be election judges in Chicago this year, giving the Republicans a full slate of election judges for the first time in memory."
So some folks are sticking to Illinois and even stepping up to the plate for the tough job of GOP election judge in Chicago. No despair for them. What’s happening now’s going to play out in the mayoral race too. Some folks are getting energized about some real changes.
Key Races: Governor, U.S. House
If you believe the Baltimore Sun and its pollsters, the race for governor between incumbent Martin O'Malley and Bob Ehrlich is becoming a runaway. The paper's latest poll has O'Malley up by a whopping 14 points, or 52-38. According to this poll, Democrats in Maryland are staying in the O'Malley camp and not crossing over to vote for the Republican Ehrlich.
But not so fast, say both the Ehrlich camp and the Maryland Republican Party. Moreover, the Red Maryland website rightfully points out that the pollster behind the Sun poll and the “straight down the middle” website Center Maryland have ties to O'Malley allies. It is difficult to believe that a race could go from 5 points to 14 points in a matter of days.
However, the dubious polling in the Sun and the Washington Post (which also shows a 14-point margin in a poll released this week), may have had its desired effect: Through the first two days of early voting (last Friday and Saturday; the 6-day period ends Thursday) Democrats in the state were actually voting in a better percentage than the GOP (see page 2 here.) However, the saving grace may be that turnout for early voting has been much better in Maryland's more rural counties where Democrats are more likely to be conservative and cross over to the GOP side. Unless trends change drastically, an O'Malley win may well come from the same five counties he won in 2006 (Baltimore City, Charles, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George's), with the other nineteen smaller, predominantly rural counties helping Ehrlich's total.
The news is better for the GOP in the First District, where the big spending between Andy Harris and Frank Kratovil has pushed the seat into the “leans Republican” column; perhaps the state can get back to the 6-2 split it had between 2002 and 2008, when the Democrat Kratovil won a formerly safe GOP district.
But consideration should be given to the Fifth District race as well. It's widely expected that Steny Hoyer will beat GOP upstart Charles Lollar, but the fact that Hoyer has to work and spend money on his own campaign means he can't assist Kratovil or other Democrats across the country. Much like Barney Frank's battle with Sean Bielat in Massachusetts, the fact a venerable Congressional old-timer is even facing a race shows the Maryland GOP isn't completely dead -- like any other state party apparatus, it just needs good candidates.
That needs to be the lesson going forward for Republicans in Maryland and other “blue” states. Retreads don't always work, but conservatives who make the election about pocketbook issues and the proper role of government can win.
Key Races: U.S. Senate, U.S. House
With Carl Paladino way, way ahead in Erie County, but far, far behind in the rest of NY, the NY press corps is leaving no Andrew Cuomo opponent un-stoned. Last week, the NY Times charged Jimmy McMillan, the Rent Is Too Damn High candidate, with not having rent that is too damn high; SNL spoofs McMillan as well. The NY Post accused Elliot Spitzer’s former madam and Anti-Prohibition Party candidate Kristin Davis with ghostwriting. Kristin Davis stood up for herself and refused to dye her hair in response.
Last week Joe DioGuardi and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand squared off in a Senate debate. The key debate moment for Gillibrand and in response to important issues in NY, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” Being that DioGuardi faces Reid’s favorite hottie, “hottieness” was bound to surface as an important issue. DioGuardi went on the attack for Gillibrand’s pose striking, while Stacy defends Dioguardi’s bikini-wearing daughter.
Though Republicans appear outmatched in statewide races, they are poised to gain several seats for Congress. According to Nate Silver at 538, nine Democrat seats are in the field of play with one solidly Republican, four tossups, and four leaning Democrat. Dem Scott Murphy was booed at a debate last week for making a disgusting personal attack against opponent Chris Gibson. Nan Hayworth’s Young Voters got their video “Vote with Me” reinstated with YouTube. Lonely Conservative offers a rare look into Dan Maffei’s campaign headquarters.
Key Race: U.S. Senate
More complaints are coming in from voters who say that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name comes up preselected on electronic voting machines in Clark County, Nevada. The reports are similar to those made in Florida in 2000, during the general election. A poorly designed ballot, albeit a paper one in ‘00, was blamed in Florida for recording 6000 votes for the wrong candidate.
This time a Las Vegas voter, Tony Scodwell, claimed on Monday that his electronic ballot came up pre-selected for Reid. The Clark County registrar of voters, Larry Lomax, told a writer for the LVRJ that that’s an impossibility. "We've also had complaints from Democrats that they opened the machine and Sharron Angle was marked," Lomax told the RJ. "It cannot happen. It doesn't happen. It is because they somehow brushed it." In a city that makes vast sums on rigging machines to only slightly favor the house, similar stories could undermine confidence in the vote. Reid and Angle have both lost Nevada elections by less than 500 votes previously. Now comes word that voters in Boulder City have made the same complaint. "Something's not right," voter Joyce Ferrara told the FoxNews local affiliate, noting that others in the voting center had the same problem. "One person that's a fluke. Two, that's strange. But several within a five-minute period of time -- that's wrong."
“Believe me I did not lean into the machine,” Scodwell told PJM. “When I put in the card, Harry Reid’s name came up pre-selected. Reid’s name is positioned such on the ballot that it would be very hard to brush up against it.” Steve Pak, the election program supervisor for Clark County, acknowledged that they have had similar complaints, but said that Reid’s name appears on the bottom of the ballot on the machine because candidates are listed alphabetically, therefore it’s likely that voters are “just accidentally brushing up against it.” However, the Elections Office has refused several requests by PJM to supply a screen shot of the ballot.
But the bigger question is: isn’t any system that is subject to a degree of voter error unacceptable, just like butterfly ballots were? “It’s a voter problem, it’s not the machines,” says Pak. Not necessarily, says Ed Basset, an engineer who worked on voting machine testing for the computer systems integrator Ciber on behalf of the federal government and several states. “It’s a complicated issue. Some of it is a matter of how the laws in the state are written,” says Bassett. “But it’s really a ballot design problem that should have been discovered in testing. That said, there is very little money to engineer solutions to correct this because it’s such a small market.” The same could have been said about the butterfly ballot as well.
Workers from the labor union SEIU, a staunch Reid ally, service the voting machines in Clark County. To add confusion to the case, the Angle campaign is charging that union members are offering incentives to vote, a violation of state law.
Whether by poor design of the ballot or by plain, old Las Vegas wise-guy design, look for the finger pointing to start right … now.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got a “man-up” on Sunday with the endorsement of UFC champion Randy Couture. That takes care of the all-important mixed martial arts demographic for Reid, apparently an important demographic in Vegas amongst younger voters. Perhaps it also settles questions about the diminutive Reid’s manhood — at least as regards his position on Social Security -- first asked by his GOP opponent, Sharron Angle, in their final debate.
The AP reported on Sunday that through Friday Republicans held a slight edge in turnout. In Clark County, which dwarfs other counties in Nevada, and has a significant Democrat plurality, early voting is less than half of what it was thus far in 2008. In the ’08 contest, early voting accounted for almost half of total turnout in Clark.
Although the AFL-CIO is still providing forced busing to union members who work at Las Vegas casinos in order to get out the vote, the results so far have not been great. With independent voters leaning GOP by a 14-point margin nationally, according to a Politico-George Washington University Battleground Poll released on Monday, the tide could be too great for Reid to fight against, no matter how manly mixed martial artists think he is.
Angle continues to hammer at Reid on ethics issues, vaguely charging that Reid has used his positions in public service for private gain. In a city with a long history of mafia involvement, the Angle team likely is taking advantage of the rumors of mob connections for any politician who made their bones (pun intended) in the 1970s as did Reid.
Key Races: Governor, U.S. House
The most powerful ad of the Texas gubernatorial campaign hit the airwaves over the past week. It's a spare video of Houston police Sgt. Jocelyn Johnson, whose husband, also a Houston police officer, was murdered by an illegal alien while Bill White was mayor. The ad's rollout accompanied the Houston police union's very visible endorsement of Gov. Perry over their former mayor. The ad plus endorsement serve to remind voters that White's policies as mayor left Houston as a sanctuary city, even after the patrolman's killing and the police union's unsuccessful attempts to get White to rescind the sanctuary city policy.
Here is the ad.
Add the sanctuary city policy to White's history of trying to limit military voting in Texas to his closeness to the Obama administration (which he has tried to hide) and you have a toxic mix of policy and history for White to overcome, or run away from. He has mostly tried the latter, earning him a "movie poster" and this cheeky depiction during one of President Obama's most recent visits to Texas.
Maybe that's why Obama hates AfP so much...
Democrat state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (HD-51) had a good week, sort of: A liberal judge dismissed the DWI case that’s been hanging over his head since March. Rodriguez had his mug shot from the arrest grace the local Busted in Austin newspaper a few months back. You can view the dash cam video in this local news story about the dismissal and judge for yourself. Rodriguez’s Republican opponent, Marilyn Jackson, has been making inroads in the Austin district by emphasizing tax and fiscal issues.
Things got a little strange in the race for HD-50, also in the Austin area. Democrat incumbent Mark Strama (rhymes with Obama) used precious TV ad airtime to accuse his GOP opponent, Pat McGuinness of being a...wait for it...blogger! Cue the dramatic chipmunk! Seriously, that's among the most pathetic political attacks of the seaons.
In my first article for PJM, I worried about Houston. Guess where nearly all the election tangles are coming from during early voting: Houston. Read between the lines of this left-sided piece at liberal Talking Points Memo, and it’s evident that Obama’s Justice Department is actively and selectively leaking to a lefty blogger in the midst of their investigations. Against this backdrop, early voting has been very heavy, with Republican areas outperforming Democratic areas both this year and in 2008 numbers. It’s looking like a disaster for the D’s. How bad? In addition to TX-17, RCP has TX-25, TX-15, TX-27 and TX-23 in various states of unrest. To that list, I would add TX-29 and I’m not ready to close down TX-30 just yet. All of these seats are currently held by Democrats.
Elsewhere, the candidates for TX-17, the congressional seat currently held by Democrat Chet Edwards, sparred in a debate in Bryan, TX, Sunday night. Republican Bill Flores slammed Edwards for being too close to Obama and Pelosi and for being a fake fiscal conservative, while Edwards tried to pin “privatizing” Social Security on Flores (a position Flores isn’t running on and has never voted on). No knockout punches were landed in the Aggieland meeting, so given the lead Flores has enjoyed for months, he is still on course to knock off Edwards and take over the seat for the GOP.
For all the issues that have been discussed during the campaign, two are likely to dominate the 2011 session of the Texas legislature. The lege meets once every two years, and as it heads into that 2011 session it will be a major player in re-drawing the state’s electoral map and will have to deal with battling a budget hole that may be as large as $25 billion over two years. Republicans have pledged to plug that hole, blown open by the recession and the housing market collapse, without raising taxes; Democrats haven’t made that pledge (and Bill White has repeatedly said that taxes are on the table). That’s among the chief differences between the parties and their candidates at the top of the ticket. But this mix of issues all but guarantees an acrimonious 140 days for the legislature. The last time the state’s electoral map was an issue, Texas wasn’t set to get up to four new seats in Congress – that’s the number it might get from the 2010 census – and that fight got so intense that the Democratic caucus literally ran off to Oklahoma to avoid having to vote on the map.
Your exit ad of the week comes from the Judge Jeff Rose campaign in Travis County. Rose runs the most interesting court in Travis County. Because he supports breathing.
Key Race: U.S. House, VA-5
Continuing last week’s fundraising theme of “No Amount Too Small or Too Close to Anything Concrete Like, Say, $2,400,” Robert Hurt’s (R) campaign is making one last push this week for extra cash, citing incumbent Tom Perriello’s six-to-one advantage in the general ability to make it rain, highlighting the curious point that we need to give him money so that we can, quote, “show the whole country that we won't be bought in Virginia.”
Perriello’s campaign has launched “24 Hours of Tom!” a countywide blitz which has him making 20 stops in the course of a day. You can follow his journey on Mapquest! Or Twitter! Or just follow the stench of the rotting ObamaCare vote dangling from his neck!
The most recent poll, by Roanoke College, has Hurt up by six.